Friday, May 30, 2014

Thanks, Sue*

One of the worst bits about having the Ferals as neighbors in Boston was getting the heebie-jeebies every time I heard an accent like theirs or saw people with their coloring and height walk by. Since they are Indian, that’s a whole lot of people to have the heebie-jeebies about.

At my new consulting gig, I’ve been in close contact with Sue who is also Indian. Unlike the Ferals, she’s exceptionally nice, professional and just all around great. It’s been a wonderful antidote to the effect the Ferals had on me.

*Not her real name

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Wrapping up Me Made May

As I predicted/expected, I didn't wear a lot of me-made clothes this month. I knew I wouldn't be able to in Boston, which took up a full week. And most of my sewn items are a little more casual than I normally wear to work. But I did wear a me-made dress to a wedding last week, and last Friday I wore pants I made.

Yesterday I finally wore this dress. Holy cow it wears well. It's been pretty hot and humid here but that dress didn't wrinkle at all! I'm pretty pleased with that. Today I'll be wearing another dress I made and probably a third dress on Friday (although I may wear the pants I made since the office gets pretty cold with the a/c).

I haven't had any time to cut out any patterns let alone sew anything. Maybe I can do it this weekend, which will be the first weekend I've been home since April. Whew.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Big boy needs a big box

Our boy kitties are quite long; a non-cat loving friend pointed this obvious fact out to me a few years ago. She was impressed with their incredibly long tails and then commented on their long spines. I hadn’t really put it together but then I got curious, measured them and then looked up average cat tail lengths online. Sure enough, Wally and Eddie are long kitties.

Over the course of the last seven years, we’ve had a variety of litter boxes to accommodate them. We finally ended up with about the biggest actual litter boxes you could get, with high sides but no tops. As I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, we’ve been experimenting with changing the litter, and between that and poor Eddie’s bum, he was not a happy cat and had recently started pooping in the dining room.

After consulting Google yet again, I suggested we get a plastic storage bin and try that as a litter box in the dining room on top of one of the poop spots. It seems that cats really hate to feel crowded while doing their business, and they don’t much care for being cooped up in small spaces while doing it either. Since Eddie is so very long, even the biggest proper litter box is too short. Fair enough, I dislike latrines and Port-A-Potties for the same reasons. Well, all the cats started using that box—Kent does the scooping and there was pretty much nothing to scoop in the other two boxes.

The kicker was on Sunday when we returned from a quick overnight trip. Eddie got our attention and then kept eye contact with us while he pooped on the dining room rug. Yikes.

So now we have two giant bins in the dining room and all cats are using them. These bins are too big to go in the sideboard we have in the office, which housed the previous litter boxes. But they are plenty large enough for very long cats to do their business without feeling crowded or having their bums hanging over the edge of the box. Unless, of course, it’s deliberate.

We’re also trying yet another litter. So far, so good in terms of no smell and far less dust. And also so far, so good in terms of the cats actually using the boxes.

The only downside is where to put these boxes permanently. I don't really want them in the dining room or the guest room and they are too big for the office. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Out, out damned ivy

Yesterday on a whim—and because the internet clearly knows all—I Googled how to get rid of English ivy. Wow. I am not the only person who dislikes the stuff. In fact, I have a lot of company*.

While I like the idea of ground cover, and I’ve even put in ivy before myself (in a small space that was pretty contained), I’ve always known it’s incredibly invasive. Our yard has ivy up near the house and along at least two of our three fence lines and unfortunately, the ivy keeps trying to grow up under the siding. That’s not good at all.

A couple of weekends ago, I spent a few hours outside pulling up the ivy. Other than having very sore hands and very nearly tweaking my back, it didn’t seem like I made much progress. I didn’t know if that just how it goes with ivy removal, but after reading I realized nope, that’s just how it goes. One blog post I found said on average it took her two hours to remove two linear feet of ivy from her seven foot tall fence. Yikes. So I’ve reframed my expectations for ivy eradication and now hope to have it mostly gone by the end of summer.

I say mostly because another site said you have to stay on the removal process. It takes less time in succeeding years (yay) but you do have to be vigilant. So next year, we’ll need to get on the slash and burn before the rest of the plants grow in.

*In case you’re curious, my favorite site for ivy removal was called Ivy Out – Rip It Out.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Three on the tree

The car looked a lot like this
When I got my driver’s license, my dad was driving a modest four-door Dodge. I think it was a Dodge Dart but the pictures I’ve found online don’t quite look the same, and I’ve never been good at recalling car models. It’s mostly not my thing. He passed that car to me (and 11 months later my brother) to use and he bought another modest used car, a 1972 two door butt ugly green Dodge Dart.

The shift pattern
The four-door was tan and along the way someone had added air conditioning, which worked really well. The trunk was enormous, the kind you associate with gangsters or Cadillacs, I swear I could have put four grown adults in there with room to spare. And it had a manual transmission, three on the tree. That meant that the gear lever was on the steering column and also had a tiny nob marked with the gear shift pattern. I didn’t have a lot of trouble managing the clutch/gas pedal dance required to change gears but I struggled mightily with that stupid three on the tree.

One night, my boyfriend (who didn’t drive) and I had gone to an A&W restaurant for floats. All was fine, no stalling or embarrassing hitches as I drove us there. But getting home was a different story. I could not get the car to drive – it kept stalling. There we were, on a fairly warm evening and me with a curfew and I couldn’t drive the damn car. Over and over I tried and stalled the car for a good 30 minutes. And of course the boyfriend was beyond useless because he didn’t drive, even though he was 18 (he didn’t want to pay for insurance).

Finally after yet another stall and very nearly in tears – and I still don’t know why I thought of it then and why I hadn’t thought of it sooner – I turned the engine off, put the car in neutral and started all over again. And this time at long last, I pulled the gear shift hard toward me and then down into first gear. It dawned on me as everything finally worked, that I’d been trying to drive from a dead stop in third gear. No wonder the car stalled.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

More pumpkin

It's not a new picture, but it's typical Eddie
Poor Eddie. He's really got a sensitive bum. As we suspected, his anal glands had started packing up again. The good news is he lost a bit of weight (0.4 pounds, which is more than it sounds when you start out at 18 pounds). And the other good news is we caught it sooner and now I know I did feel the glands.

He's to double his pumpkin intake and come back in three months. The vet wasn't all that sure that the fiber would help but it won't hurt and it does help increase the amount of water he's getting.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Of cats and litter

We'd had a litter that we liked, well sort of. It's this one, only unscented. What we liked about it is that it clumped solid with no odor. But there’s also a big negative too: it’s super dusty. And when I say dusty, I mean the dust goes everywhere. That’s not good for our lungs, the kitties’ lungs nor our computers (which are in the same room as the litter boxes.

So I scouted around online and read up on the various litters out there to see if we could find a better alternative. The World’s Best Cat Litter had a lot of positive reviews, although a few did say the odor control wasn’t the best – but it didn’t have dust. We were cautiously optimistic and got some.

The switch-over seemed to be going well, with all cats acting normal and not upset. But then – and at the same time as when I started this consulting job a few weeks ago – someone started pooping in the dining room on the rug.

We knew that cats don’t actually just start going outside their boxes for no reason so we figured it was due to one of the following:

  • He (based on the size of the chocolate Lincoln logs, it was almost certainly one of the boy kitties) was upset that I wasn't around all day anymore
  • He didn’t like the litter
  • Or he had something else going on

We tried a couple of things. First, we got a much bigger container to use as a litter box because both boy kitties are very long and we’d read about how much cats hate to feel confined in their boxes. But he still pooped outside the box. Then we noticed that Eddie was crying more and I could feel tiny hard lumps again on either side of his butt, the same as when he had the anal gland issue a few months ago.

So tomorrow he goes to the vet’s to be checked. In the meantime, we changed out the litter in the big box and put in the dusty stuff again. And you know what? All three of them are using that box exclusively. Clearly The World’s Best isn’t our best option. We’ll be trying Precious Cat Ultra Premium next. Fingers/paws crossed and all that.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The week in review

Random bits from my week here in Boston:

I got breakfast most days at a Dunkin Donuts near the training location. Every time, I saw an older woman – 50s? 60s? – sitting at the same table talking to herself. She was otherwise normal: nice appearance, normal clothing, nothing out of the ordinary. She just talked to herself. And no, she wasn’t using a Bluetooth.

Thursday night, I walked over to a restaurant in my old neighborhood for some carry out. On the way back to my hotel, I walked as most do in Boston – looking ahead and slightly down. I saw a baby in a stroller and then realized hey! I know that baby. And of course, I knew the parents too. David and Fiona were coming home from picking up Sam at day care. Boston really is a small town in so many ways.

Coming up the stairs from the Green Line at my stop, I heard a man start singing to a woman “I wanna know what love is, I want you to know me!” She mock slapped at him and told him not to put that song in her head. I completely agreed with her.

The training this week was held at the Union Club which looks very unimpressive from the outside but is amazing on the inside. The building has been updated a little bit in that air conditioning was added a year or two ago but otherwise the woodwork and so on is still original. I tried to grab a picture with my phone but the only one that really shows anything well is this one from the fifth floor. That's a view of Boston Common and some skyline further out.

How was your week?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Oh Boston

I'm in Boston this week attending mediator training (which is incredibly wonderful). It's bittersweet being here. On the one hand, I love living in a big city and don't any more. On the other hand, living here was tough, really tough. 

This is part of a text message conversation between me and Kent: 
Elizabeth: I wish it had been different here in Boston for us
Kent: me too
But of course, it wasn't different. We're no longer here and probably won't ever live here again. It's taken two years but now I can see that so much of our stress was due to a specific set of neighbors and not about the city. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

MMM 20014 so far

Well, I’ll be completely honest. So far I’ve worn me made items four out of the 11 days of this month. That’s not a great track record but it’s what I’ve got. But to make it even worse, I have no pictures. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

I’ve worn the New Look jacket and skirt I blogged about here (no pictures), the grey dress that was cobbled together and blogged about here, the polka-dotted dress I barely mentioned here, and the pink top mentioned here. I also used one of the bags I’ve made this week. I guess if I really wanted to sort of cheat, I could just carry a me-made bag every day.

My score won’t improve this week; in fact it will remain the same because I’m leaving this afternoon for training in Boston and didn’t pack anything I made. Nope, not even a bag. Oh well.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Can you handle another ew?

The same day I noticed all the gradeau coming up from our drain, and while I was in the middle of a particularly grueling lower body workout, I saw a mouse scamper along the top of the basement wall below the floor joists. Let me tell you, that got my heart racing even more than it already was!

Kent’s put some traps down there which is unfortunate but necessary. We know mice will be a problem until we can get the door from the garage to the backyard fixed so that it’s tight in the frame. Even then we may still have mice. As the exterminator told us last year when he came and treated the house for bugs, we have a lovely back yard full of enticing plants and it’s just a short distance into the house.

But yes. Ew again.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Ew ew ew

Last week we had some really heavy rain and it became obvious we needed to clean out our gutters. Not only was water spilling over the side of the gutters, never a good sign, but we had more water around our drain in the basement, which I noticed when I was down there working out. Naturally I assumed this was from water getting into the basement from outside.

Except that two days later I was down there again and noticed that the drain had been pushed up and there was a clear debris field around it. To be honest, I was really afraid that tree roots had grown through the pipe leading to the sewer and that all that debris was from the yard.

We had a plumber come out to clear out the pipe and he took one look at the debris (of which there was more than before, which was strange since it hadn’t rained . . . ) and said it was our kitchen line backing up. The debris was what was left from our disposal. So $135 and about 30 minutes later, the line was clear and he even cleaned up the gunky bits.

There’s just no way I’d be a plumber. But I’m sure glad someone is.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Me Made May plus remembering my sewing philosophy

If you haven’t heard of Me Made May, it’s a pretty simple concept. You pledge to wear X clothing items you’ve made during the month of May. Lots of bloggers write extensively about it in May, and it's even garnered a newspaper article.Some sewists wear only items they’ve made, some include an item a day and others go for a few a week. I generally haven’t participated except in my thoughts and that’s mostly because what I sew is a little too casual for my style at work. But I am always intrigued by the various levels of participation and enjoy seeing the photos of what people wore each day in May.

This year, another group of sewing bloggers has named May as Sewing Indi Month – with the goal of sewing and wearing casual styles by independent pattern makers. Now that’s something I can get behind since it lines up with where I’m realizing my sewing needs to be.

You see, I do best when I sew up casual clothing. That’s both because it’s within my skill range and also fits into my schedule. And to be completely honest, it helps with my massive impatient streak. I really get twitchy if something takes days and days to sew, especially if it ends up being a big fat failure. I just found this pattern over the weekend, so I’m going to whip it up this month.

So this May, in addition to giving an independent pattern maker a try, I’m also recommitting myself to sticking with sewing the casual clothing I know I can do well. In turn, that will allow me to save money to buy the more complicated items I like but don’t have the patience or skill to make.